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“View that can't be beat”

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Arenal Observatory Lodge & Spa
Certificate of Excellence
GreenLeadersBronze level
Brick Township, New Jersey, United States
Level 3 Contributor
22 reviews
8 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
“View that can't be beat”
Reviewed January 20, 2013

We spent 4 nights here and stayed in one of the standard rooms on the second floor of the main lodge with a view of the volcano. An unexpected plus was having wireless internet available- apparently the wireless network in the lounge area downstairs from us was strong enough to cover our room. The property itself was beautiful and there were several well marked trails that roam throughout the area surrounding the lodge buildings. Take advantage of the daily walking tour that covers many of the trails, including one that leads to an impressive waterfall. You may be lucky to spot some monkeys in the upper limbs of the trees but you'll need to look hard to see them. Word of caution: while taking a walk with my wife we had the rather unpleasant surprise of meeting a wild boar who wasn't pleased to see us. Walk calmly, don't run away. If you like horseback riding the lodge offers the chance of exploring the property aboard a nice calm horse with a fantastic guide named Herman. For $10 per hour it can't be beat. The food is pretty good and the free breakfast is decent. Prices for lunch and dinner are not too bad, especially when you consider that it will cost you $60 to go into LaFortuna and back to eat at a local place. If that's not enough to deter you, maybe the long, incredibly bumpy ride will. The only major problem we encountered here was on our last night when a large private party was held in the restaurant that is located next to the main building. The party was extremely loud and ended after the office closed, thus the partiers were able to congregate right outside our window well into the night.

Room Tip: Standard room with volcano view seems to be best value; paying extra for Smithsonian Room doesn'...
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  • Stayed January 2013, traveled with family
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Thank Mike M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Mexico City, Mexico
Level 5 Contributor
84 reviews
27 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 52 helpful votes
Reviewed January 20, 2013

You cannot get better than this at the Arenal. After experimenting a few other hotels, last year we found this jewel. Its the closer you can get to the volcano and it is the best value at this region. Besides the hotel is a park, so well taken care and with a friendly staff. What you can find here: plenty of nature, animals and a lot of peace. What you will not: fancy restaurant and amenities. The hotel has a house with 2 suites that is just amazing. With a big living room, kitchen and views of the volcano that will take your breath away. The White Hawk Villa is the upmost special place at this property if you want peace and tranquility.

  • Stayed January 2013, traveled with family
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Helpful?
Thank ANP71
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Littleton, Colorado
Level 2 Contributor
7 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 8 helpful votes
Reviewed January 20, 2013

This is THE only place to stay if you want an up-close and personal experience of the Arenal Volcano and surrounding environs. The Lodge is only a mile from the volcano, and magnificent views are offered from almost every inch of the expansive property. The landscaping is breathtaking--well-manicured, diverse, and designed to give the tourist close access to fauna (birds, monkeys, and mammals) and flora alike. The trails are especially nice, each holding their own special charm and surprises. Staff is quite helpful and there is a full service bar and restaurant on the premises. This is good, because a ride into La Fortuna costs $30 US. International clientele. The food is a bit limited (but the included breakfast was very good) and the beds were a little hard, but who cares? You don't go there for the food or for the sleeping.

Room Tip: Smithsonian rooms all have a balcony and a large window looking right out on the volcano
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  • Stayed January 2013, traveled with friends
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Helpful?
Thank Tracey D
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Calgary, Canada
Level 3 Contributor
15 reviews
7 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 13 helpful votes
Reviewed January 19, 2013

As soon as I got there the clouds parted and I saw the whole volcano. This property is unreal; it doesn't quit, is perfectly manicured and has everything from spiders, coral snakes, howler monkeys, white faced monkeys, birds of all kinds, and many other kinds of critters. The property is full of trees, flowers and jungle. There are many hiking trails, a "free" (if you have a room) guided tour in the morning, waterfalls, a farm; really 500 acres of Costa Rica at it's finest. You need quite a few days to be there and really enjoy. If it weren't for the lack of fridges you could go and just plan to stay on the property; if you don't have a car it costs a whopping 30 dollars to go each way into town! The Smithsonian room had a great view of the volcano as does the restaurant and the whole property. The room was clean, the bed comfortable, the pillows were massive so I couldn't use them. I did miss having a phone to ask questions to the reception; it was quite a beautiful trek to get to and from my room to the desk and normally might not matter tons but I was recovering from a broken leg so a phone would have been great. Wifi in the room would be great; a staff member told me that he thinks people should be "unplugged" while they are there, hence no phone, wifi or TV in the room; I think it should be up to the guest how they spend their time, I travel alone and need to stay connected so that people know I am alive! The staff was mostly helpful although I was misinformed by them before I got there; they told me I could wait to book the Interbus back to Jaco and due to that misinformation I had only one choice for a bus when I booked and had to leave at 7:00 am and missed half a day at this wonderful place. No apologies were made, in fact the staff member blamed someone in an office in San Jose for it. The restaurant service was excellent; the best I have had in a restaurant in Costa Rica. They were very attentive, friendly and respectful. I had two meals there that were horrible but I complained after the second one and they didn't charge me for it. After that I just told them to go easy on the oil and my other two meals were quite fine; one was excellent. They let me eat my breakfast earlier than breakfast was supposed to be served due to having to leave so early and breakfast was really good. It was windy at night and my door banged back and forth because of it; I didn't get much sleep and apparently the wind is only certain times of year. I would definitely go back here but would either rent a car or not leave the property!

Room Tip: choose one near the pool or you might have a bit of a chilly hike at night to get from it...
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  • Stayed January 2013, traveled solo
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1 Thank asylumboss
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Indiana
Level 3 Contributor
11 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
Reviewed January 19, 2013

Spent one night at the Observatory Lodge and can't say enough good about it. Employees were very helpful, trails were easy to read and great views from trails. Volcano and Lake can be seen from the dinning room deck. Road up to Lodge is still worth the trip.

Room Tip: Stay on 2nd floor units by the pool great view of the gardens and volcano.
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  • Stayed January 2013, traveled with friends
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Helpful?
Thank karhart1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Orange County
Level 5 Contributor
43 reviews
32 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 29 helpful votes
Reviewed January 18, 2013

Our family with two kids visited this lodge in summer of 2008. It's quite an adventure just to get up here. It was the rainy season and one of the bridges got overran with water and tree limbs that we got stuck halfway on that mountain to the lodge for about 3 hours. Luckily we had a small 4x4 and were among the first to make it through 2 feet of water on the bridge to go back to our room. The other cars had to wait further for the flood to subside.

Once we made it to the lodge, we were rewarded with a beautiful tropical resort with so many nice features. Our room was clean, comfy and best of all, had a wall-to-wall windows that face directly the volcano.

The best part about this lodge was the nightly lava show that could be seen while lying in bed. Two of the three nights we stayed, we heard rumbling thunder from a distance, then boulders of red lava got blown up in the air then tumbling down the side while scattering into showers of red fireworks that dissipated into the darkness. That was an awesome experience seeing the fury of nature from the comfort of your own bed.

The next best thing about this lodge is their horse riding activity. We rode through tropical plants, open meadows and hills, even galloping along the way. The kids loved it. The staff were super helpful and friendly.

Breakfast was always good with my newly-found favorite: fried bananas. Other items were even better and the view from the dinning room is wonderful with colorful birds at nearly every tree nearby.

Our room was a long walk from the lobby room and had no phone, even to the lodge office. While we came here to be near nature and prefered not to be wired, it proved to be problematic when something goes wrong with the facility. Our toilet leaked twice during the first day. It was clean water but our whole bathroom floor was all wet and the water kept coming. To call for help required me to walk, once in the rain, to the lobby just to notify somebody. After the long offroad trip up the mountain, and waiting in the rain, waiting to cross that washed-out bridge, needless to say, I was peeved at having to walk that far to tell somebody to fix the toilet, twice.

But overall, it was still a great place to experience the volcano up close and the beautiful ground. We paid some $120 a night for two adults and two children, including breakfast. That was a great deal along with beautiful facilities and friendly services. Strongly recommend it.

  • Stayed February 2012, traveled with family
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Helpful?
Thank Daniel N
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Toronto, Canada
Level 3 Contributor
13 reviews
7 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 11 helpful votes
Reviewed January 17, 2013

We paid the small fee to use the facilities, trails and gardens and it was well worth it. Beautiful manicured gardens where hummingbirds zoom about as well as forest trails, one that leads to a lovely waterfall. Great view of Arenal-best I saw there. Nice atmosphere in the restaurant and bar area. Stayed elsewhere, but would return here for next stay.

  • Stayed January 2013, traveled with friends
    • Value
    • Location
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank Elaine T
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Arenal Observatory Lodge & Spa

Property: Arenal Observatory Lodge & Spa
Address: 23 Km West of La Fortuna City Center, Located at the Base of the Arenal Volcano | Main Road to Arenal National Park, Arenal Volcano National Park, La Fortuna de San Carlos, Costa Rica
Phone Number:
Location: Costa Rica > Province of Alajuela > Arenal Volcano National Park > La Fortuna de San Carlos
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Kitchenette Restaurant Room Service Shuttle Bus service Spa Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 69 Specialty Lodging in La Fortuna de San Carlos
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$
Hotel Class:3 star — Arenal Observatory Lodge & Spa 3*
Number of rooms: 50
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Situated only 1.7 Miles from the majestic Arenal Volcano and with a spectacular view of Lake Arenal, the Arenal Observatory Lodge (AOL) offers guests the opportunity to DISCOVER, EXPLORE and RELAX. Located within the Arenal Conservation Area and surrounded by rainforests and nature, AOL sits on an 870 acres property, which consists of 400 acres of reforestation, 270 acres of natural forest and 200 acres of cultivated land. The hotel offers 48 comfortable rooms surrounded by gardens, the majority with a direct view of the volcano and/or the forest. The 7 miles of well-maintained trails for walking, horseback riding or biking running through the property provide good opportunities to observe a variety of flora and fauna. Approximately 500 species of birds live in the area making AOL a preferred destination for bird watchers. Activities at the hotel include hikes to the waterfall or to explore Cerro Chato (an extinct volcano with a small lake in the crater), horseback riding, bicycling through the trails, enjoying a refreshing swim in our pool, or simply relaxing with a massage in our SPA. The hotel is well located to serve as a base for a variety of excursions such as the Cano Negro Nature Refuge, hot springs, Venado Caves, Canopy Tours, Arenal Hanging Bridges, Fishing, White Water Rafting, Canyoning, Biking etc. It also serves as a very interesting stop before heading on to Monteverde Cloud Forest or to the beaches of the Pacific coast. Arenal Observatory Lodge is the perfect place for adventure lovers, families, and honeymooners. With its spectacular location, great service, and friendly personnel you won't be disappointed ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Arenal Observatory Hotel La Fortuna De San Carlos
Arenal Observatory Lodge & Spa Costa Rica/Arenal Volcano National Park

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